Aussies eye series as India A looks to rebuild

The tour Down Under later this year and the home series against West Indies has opened opportunities for players; India A will look to impress chairman of selectors, M.S.K. Prasad, when the second Test begins on Saturday.

Travis Head, who scored a handsome 87 in the first Test, will be expected to fire.   -  FILE PIC/ SUDHAKARA JAIN

Australia-A, following its convincing 98-run win over the host nation in the first unofficial Test, will look to sign off its India tour on a winning note when the second and the final 'Test' gets underway in Alur on Saturday.

This tour has been a pivotal preparation for Australia’s two-Test tour against Pakistan in the UAE next month.

At least four spots in its 'Test' team are up for grabs. Fast bowlers Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood have been ruled out of the series as they continue to recover from their back injuries.

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The A team's Michael Nesser and Brendan Doggett — who skipped Friday's practice session — are the likely candidates to replace the two of the top 10 Test bowlers in the world.

Both had a good outing at the M.Chinnaswamy stadium, where they picked up seven wickets between them for 173 runs. However, it was the left-arm spin of Jon Holland, whose nine-wicket haul, had put the visitor firmly in control. The Victorian spinner has staked a strong claim for the second spinner's spot in the Australian team.

Coach Graeme Hick might rest and rotate the bowlers in Alur, giving either left-arm spinner Ashton Agar or leg-spinner Mitchell Swepson a look in. Swepson sent down a handful of deliveries in the nets — getting a few to turn sharply — while Agar and Holland rolled their arm too.

Australia-A's batting, though, looks unstable with the exceptions of opener Usman Khawaja (who had a hundred in the last match), Marnus Labuschagne and Travis Head.

Captain Mitchell Marsh and Peter Handscomb would be hoping to make amends for a rather poor outing with the bat. Handscomb, who will have the added responsibility of keeping wickets in absence of vice-captain Alex Carey, collected throwdowns from spin consultant Sridharan Sriram.

Meanwhile, southpaw Matt Renshaw, who missed the first Test due to a hamstring injury, is likely to play.

Plenty to play for

The chairman of selectors, M. S. K. Prasad, was in attendance as the India A players put in the hard yards in the nets. Mayank Agarwal and Mohammed Siraj, ignored for the the Asia Cup squad, had impressed in Bengaluru, with Siraj picking up 11 wickets and Agarwal — continuing his run-glut — scoring a total of 127 in the two innings.

There may not be any immediate rewards in sight, but with a busy cricketing calendar ahead — West Indies arrives in India next month for a tour comprising two Tests, five ODIs and three T20Is following which Virat Kohli's men travel to Australia for three ODIs, four Tests and three T20Is — there's plenty to play for.

India chinaman bowler, Kuldeep Yadav, sent home from England with the Asia Cup in mind, bagged four wickets in the last 'Test' and will hope to add to his tally.